Can Emiliano Grillo do it again?
The rookie from Argentina shocked the golf world Sunday when he won the Frys.com Open at Napa, Calif., defeating veteran Kevin Na in a playoff in the first PGA Tour event of the 2016 season. Two days after, he’s still amazed at what he accomplished.
“This is much more exciting,” said Grillo, who won the Web.com Tour Championship on Oct. 4 before parlaying that into his first PGA Tour victory. “This is the PGA Tour. As a player, you dream about winning here.”
Grillo, 23, will be playing TPC Summerlin for the first time when he tees off Thursday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He said the key to winning last week was being patient with himself and not let the moment become too big for him.
“I think I’ve been doing the right things,” Grillo said. “That’s it. Nothing really special about it. I’ve been just consistent about my game. I’ve been playing good in almost every area of my game. That’s really important out here.”
Given what he has done this month, Grillo’s no longer a well-kept secret and he’s not going to sneak up on anyone this week in Las Vegas.
“I’m excited to be here,” he said. “I can’t wait to play the course.”
But if he can be at or near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday, it will give the start of his 2016 season a huge boost. The 500 FedEx points he earned last week in Napa already has him in a good place, not to mention the exemptions he received for winning along with a spot in the Masters field come April.
“It’s definitely a relief to get off to such a good start,” Grillo said. “But I want to take advantage of how well I’m playing right now. i want to keep it going. So I’m not going to change anything.”
Grillo is hoping one other perk comes from his current success — a spot on Argentina’s Olympic golf squad. Golf will be part to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“It would be a great honor,” he said. “It’s on thing to play for yourself. It’s much bigger when you are playing for your country. It’s a completely different feeling. I hope I get that opportunity.”
UNLV PRESENCE — UNLV will be well-represented at TPC Summerlin this week as six of Dwaine Knight’s former players are in the field.
Chad Campbell, Charley Hoffman, Ryan Moore, Chris Riley, Derek Ernst and Andres Gonzales are all playing this week. Moore won the Shriners Open in 2012 and is one of nine former champions in the field. The others are defending champ Ben Martin (2014), Webb Simpson (2013), Kevin Na (2011), Jonathan Byrd (2010), Martin Laird (2009), George McNeill (2007), Stuart Appleby (2003) and Davis Love III (1993).
NOTABLE PAIRINGS — The pairings for the first two rounds were announced Tuesday afternoon and among the more notable groups will be Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner who will tee off at 12:08 p.m. Thursday from tee No. 1.
Another group that will attract a lot of attention will be Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker and Love III. They begin at 7:23 a.m. Thursday from the No. 10 tee. UNLV alums Hoffman and Moore will play with Grillo at 12:18 p.m. Thursday from the first tee and they figure to attract a good-sized gallery.
DELETIONS AND ADDITIONS — Matt Every withdrew Tuesday and was replaced in the field by Mark Hubbard. No reason was given for Every’s withdrawal.
Also getting into the field from qualifying on Monday were Jin Park, Michael Schoolcraft and John Mallinger.
DREAM TEAM — Three former Shriners Hospitals patients will play in today’s Championship Pro-Am with Daniel Summerhays.
Luke Grossnicklaus, 20, who lost his right leg after contracting schlerodema, a disorder which causes the body to track healthy tissue, will be joined by 19-year-old Anton Glass and 13-year-old Jalen Castle.
Glass lost his left leg when he was five after being born without a tibia bone while Castle bounced back from scoliosis and she had a vertebral body tethering procedure done in April.
The Dream Team tees off at 11:10 a.m. from the No. 10 tee.